Author Topic: The Wilderness Years  (Read 8730 times)


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The Wilderness Years
« on: January 23, 2004, 02:11:57 pm »
My memories of Shankly's reign like many others are coloured. Selective memory is probably the main culprit. The Messiah had come from Huddersfield to Liverpool and dragged us out of the old Second division.

In his early days he had won the title twice and finally brought THE CUP home for the first time in our History. Happy days indeed for the Garston Rag Arse. But 1966 the year England won the World Cup in the summer, saw my family and I move from my beloved Garston, to the more "Snobbish" Woolton.

Little did I realise that this was going to be a major turning point in my life and every other REDS. We were League Champions. We were World Champions. Surely we were on the brink of a great new era?

My memories of the next 7 years are happy ones. My dad was taking me to games more often, in fact I rarely missed home games. I was still on a shilling a goal when I scored for the school team. I'll never forget the look on my Dads face when he handed over 5/- for one game.

What a shock I got recently when it was pointed out that these were the years when Liverpool actually won NOTHING. It can't be true I thought, they were some of my happiest years of my life.
These years included:

My first pair of long trousers
My first pint
My first proper girlfriend
and money in my pocket on a regular basis.
Hunt was still knocking the goals in, Hateley came and went, knocking in more than a goal every two games. Times could not be better. Yeats was still at the heart of our defence and I swear blind he grows another inch every year. Yosser Hughes arrived.

Clemence the worlds best goalie was between our sticks. Lawler was the best right back in the country and NO ONE would argue that, not only was he a great defender, he scored goals regularly. Lindsay our left back could peel an orange with his left boot.

Tommy Smith was still frightening anyone who came within 50 yds of him. Alun Evans arrived and totally dismantled Bayern Munich, a night I will always remember. Keegan and Toshack came an dproved ESP did exist! Heighway was that fast, I thought I needed glasses, he was just a blur. Callaghan must be playing his 1000th game by now surely. With all the talent we had in those years, we must have been the greatest side around.

So off to the record books I headed:

66/67 Nothing
67/68 Nothing
68/69 Nothing
69/70 Nothing
70/71 Nothing
71/72 Nothing

How the hell could these be classed as happy years?

Surely I must have had a few scraps over our abysmal record, but no. How could my memory have blanked out such a period of failure. So deeper I dug into the record books. Looking for some sort of answer. I concentrated on home games because I didn't see many away games until later years. What kept me happy, what kept my belief as strong as ever? What made me turn up to games week in week out? Was Shankly the greatest ever conman?

Then there it was, staring at me straight in the face. What I was watching was Liverpool winning at home. It was the games I didn't see that was a blank in my memory. Our Home record over those years included:

66-67 Two defeats only WBA and Blackpool, but included a 5-0 win over Leeds and a 4-0 win over Forest.

67-68 Again two defeats only Man Utd and Sheff Utd, but included a 6-0 win over Newcastle and a 6-1 win over Forest.

68-69 Only one defeat all season against Forest, but 4-0 wins over Ipswich and Leicester.

69-70 Four defeats (our worst home record in this period, but I missed two of these losses) Arsenal, Man Utd, Derby and Everton, but 4-1 victories over Chelsea and Southampton.

70-71 NO DEFEATS, but good wins over Huddersfield and Forest.

71-72 The only defeat was by Leeds, but consecutive wins that will live with me for a long time: 2-0 Sheff Utd 3-0 Man City 4-0 Everton 5-0 Newcastle. The following game at home we played Stoke and I like many others greeted the players with "We want SIX". It wasn't to be, the run had to end somewhere, we begrudgingly settled for a 2-1 win.

72-73 Only defeat was Arsenal, but we did stick five past the hapless Sheff Utd.

The fact is, we were absolutely BRILLIANT at home.

After that season the trophies began to return home EVERY YEAR. My only conclusion can be, that what you dont see cant harm you. Ignorance certainly can be bliss. There is no great shame in losing an away game, if its followed by a series of home wins.

We must have had appalling away form in those years, but I wasn't there to witness any of them.
The pain of an away defeat would only last until the next home game. Trophies are nice, but in those years of winning absolutely nothing, the fans remained happy because we hardly ever lost at home. And even when we did, we went down fighting until the very last kick of the game.

The Liverpool PINK was a great help, the home side was always featured on the front page and there for all to see was the "Kopite" dancing and swinging his rattle, while the Toffee lady stood whinging. When the time came, where I could afford to go to away games, we were slaughtering teams right left and centre. Not only in the league but all over Europe too.

Now comes the tricky bit.

If I could support a team for nearly 7 years winning absolutely nothing and remaining as happy as I was, what has changed? Hasn't the current manager won us the FA Cup, The League Cup twice, The Uefa cup, The Super Cup in a much shorter period?

Yes, is the simple answer. But the way we currently play the game, is quite frankly disheartening.

Tactic 1: Get a goal, put 11 men behind the ball and try and hang on for grim death.

Tactic 2: Frustrate the opposition for most of the game and HOPE for a break away late in the game.

In the early days of watching Liverpool away from home, especially in Europe, the above tactics worked well. But to play the same game at Anfield is sacrilege. We were so successful in Europe because we had two tactics. One for away and one for home.

Fans who have only ever been to European home nights must think we are the best team in the world. Fans who have travelled abroad to watch us in the first legs know in their own mind, that we go away to do a job and I have nothing but admiration for those spending their hard earned to watch us BORE the opposition to death more often than not.

Gerard Houllier, the self professed fan of those days, must have seen the two tactics often, has he has forgotten PLAN 2, bring 'em back to Anfield and hit them with everything we've got.

Obvious statement; more fans watch us at home games than do at aways. Want a simple solution Ged, before its too late?

Keep the home fans happy, by returning to all out attack at Anfield.  Send the home fans home happy. Give them something to be proud of, when they're arguing with the local bluenoses on their Saturday nights out in the local LEG-IRON (Legion for the none goers).

We can suffer the odd, "backs against the wall" performance away from home, cos we've seen it all before. BUT for Gods sake give us something to cheer about at Home. I swear blind, I saw a fellah fast asleep in the Stands the last time I was at Anfield. Years ago I would have give him a dig in the ribs, to wake him up.

I didn't because perhaps he was like me.............


« Last Edit: January 24, 2004, 09:46:48 am by Rushian »
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Offline RedBoywonder

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Re: The Wilderness Years
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2004, 03:52:43 pm »
Great post mate.
Justice for the 96.

Offline Ian-TN

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Re: The Wilderness Years
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2004, 04:08:45 pm »
Great post mate, al though I disagree with the 11men behind the ball once were one up at Anfield this year.

Just goin through our home games this year that we took the lead in-

Leicester, went one up carried on at them and got a second. Conceded one late on and then had to defend while through went long ball against us.

Leeds, one up they equalised we then went two up, without any 11men behind the ball stuff went on to win 3-1.

Bolton, went one up then carried on to go three up before losin a late goal.

Villa, went one up then missed enough chances to win any game, and couldnt finish them off.

Other games like Spurs we just couldnt break them down, nothin IMO to do with lack of attackin.
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Offline walshys_mullet

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Re: The Wilderness Years
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2004, 04:18:12 pm »
spot on wooly.

the echo ought to give you a slot mate i tell ya.
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Offline KOTP

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Re: The Wilderness Years
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2004, 04:23:07 pm »
spot on wooly. might see ya tmrw for a drink pre match, you gonna be in the sandon?

Offline Guz-kop

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Re: The Wilderness Years
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2004, 04:27:01 pm »
Nice post.

I'm not even looking for all out attack. Just the basics. Going in for 50-50s. Closing players down, showing a bit of fight, a bit of passion. If we go down, then let US go down fucking fighting.

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Offline Kirsty

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Re: The Wilderness Years
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2004, 04:45:59 pm »
Top post.

I've seen far too many defeats at home of late.

Offline Bannside Red

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Re: The Wilderness Years
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2004, 05:10:21 pm »
Another excellent read Karl, I enjoyed that.


  • The Garston Gasworks XI.....aka "Beryl".....
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Re: The Wilderness Years
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2004, 08:11:39 am »
spot on wooly. might see ya tmrw for a drink pre match, you gonna be in the sandon?

Nothing would give me greater pleasure John, but alas you wont be seeing me for a while.
I've been ordered by the Doc to go on the wagon, due to a severe liver condition.
I'm currently on a home de-tox.
30 years of hard boozing has left me in a poor state.
7 days today without a drink, the longest period since I was 14.
Perhaps if all goes well over the next few weeks I'll come and join you for a Calibre  :(

Lets just hope we can thrash Newcastle today and give us all a much needed boost.
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Offline longtimered

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Re: The Wilderness Years
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2004, 09:31:45 am »
   got a few years on you and did manage to stop smoking last year-after 40 years-so i'm sure you can knock booze on the head.
  anyway alun evans-i thought he was going to be a world beater;4-0 up after 20/30 mins on his debut and 6-0 away to wolves on his second game.(thankyou very much for alun evans we sang at molineux to the tune of the scaffold hit).remember the hatrick too v bayern(wasnt that his first game back after injury?)
   I would have bet big money on Alun Evans becoming a top class player-just as i would that Biscan isnt!I was wrong about Alun Evans-will i be wrong about Igor?

Offline Mottman

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Re: The Wilderness Years
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2004, 09:41:36 am »

A boy from the Mersey and a Son of Shankly.

Offline Redordead

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Re: The Wilderness Years
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2004, 07:08:30 pm »
Another great post!  Always look forward to reading your insightful musings Wooly!

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Offline nige

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Re: The Wilderness Years
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2004, 12:36:19 pm »
Great post mate and mucho respect to you, but  "nothing" in all those seasons ???????? I'd say we had a lot more than nothing, and I'm guessing that what mainly made the people happy in an increasingly defensive division 1  was that in every one of those springs except  1970 & 71 Liverpool supporters  like you (I was a toddler in the late 60s) went into March with realistic expectations of a title challenge - but then a lot of teams did in those days.
Only in 1970  did the lack of that challenge ( the famously sluggish FA Cup exit at watford  was only the most obvious symptom) signal  it was time for a change, which I do well remember, as suddenly new idols emerged for me when I was 7.
 Then in 70-71 everyone knew we were rebuilding and still lacked pieces of the jigsaw ... but what I wanted to ask was, in that season 70-71, what did koppites think of the style of play which according to the stats was the most boring by far in the Division, with just 42 goals scored in 42 games and 24 conceded, our games averaging 1.5 goals (with 9 0-0 draws and 12 1-0 or 0-1) whilst everyone else, even Leeds,  was around the usual 2.5 mark or higher ????
Did they accept the manager's constant excuses in the programme and the Echo that season about key  injuries during that  season of rebuilding  ?? (historically, it's interesting to note that we'd already had a dour start to that season even before several-month-long  injuries to Evans, Callaghan and Graham  but also that their replacements were very capable youngsters like Hall, Heighway Toshack and Boersma.
I guess that some Koppites were patient and others were less so  about the lack of goals, as Shankly rebuilt from the back with Everton and Leeds riding above us ....but then along came Keegan and the rest is history.
And I agree with you that we would be more patient now too,  if it weren't for one over-riding  factor that causes us to have lost faith,  but I don't think that factor is the lack of "the Liverpol way" in style of play, I think it's the lack of "the Liverpol way" in terms of the manager's faith in certain players who clearly will never be good enough.
[I don't mean proven internationals like Diao & Diouf though, it's how they are coached / respond to coaching that must be in doubt there).
Bill shankly rebuilt from the back that season and made us difficult to beat. But he didn't have key injuries there. With Finnan, Carragher, Henchoz, Hyppia and Hamman we are difficult to beat. I can understand why inferior players had to be brought in to cover, one in particular,  but not why they/he had to stay in so long.
Please let's now keep that "back  6" (hopefully with Kirky)  intact.